The Katz Essay: Unless We Are Groaning Presently

So, if we agree that the world is hopelessly evil, and that God’s righteous people are under ceaseless attack by the “ruler of this world” and that the whole world lies in the wicked one who afflicts the righteous by his demonic and human agents, then we agree that they are soon to be overcome and that evil rule is finally to be ended by the direct intervention of God who will create an entirely new, perfect and eternal age under his immediate control, “a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

And, one thing that will save you from being a merely phraseological Christian who subscribes to the correctness of this view, is if you are now already groaning over the evil in the world, and that your soul, like righteous Lot, is already presently vexed, so that you cannot stand to flick on the television or to walk into a home that happens to have it on and to see endless advertisements or commercials, as I did, for these contests with these monstrous cars with the giant wheels where the announcer promised there would be devastating collisions like you’ve never seen before, and that the impact will be astonishing and more crashing and crunching than ever before!

And you don’t gag when you hear that? That you don’t bend over? You don’t feel the puke rising?

I want you to, and God wants you to hate what he hates and love what he loves. He wants you to hate iniquity and to love righteousness that will make you a marked man. Unless we are groaning presently for the vile things that are already spreading over the earth, how shall we have the blessed hope of the church that expects the alleviation of these evils and the establishment of the righteousness with his coming? God forbid that this should become for us only “doctrine” because that is exactly what will characterize the apostate church! They will give verbal ascent for exactly the same things, but they will not hold them dearly. They will not believe them. It will just be a mere phraseological Christianity, and they will be strangely irritated by those who do. The words “fanatic,” “heretic,” or worse, will begin to describe the strange enmity that will come forth from that religious body against the smaller.

…this is not something that happens when God’s back is turned

But, that has ever and always been the case. How much more so at the end and consummation of the age will be the persecution of the one by the other? And if you but knew that this is not something that happens when God’s back is turned, and that he is fully cognizant of the entire process, and that he himself is the one that set it in motion by giving us a foolish gospel to believe and a hope beyond the suffering that is inflicted on the saints for their unwillingness to enter ecumenical, global world order – and to suffer! For that releases the very thing for which God is waiting that consummates the age, that there is something in the suffering of the saints that is something more than is doleful and mournful and needs patiently to be borne. It’s a release, a demonstration of something that breaks the last vestiges of the power of hell and the usurping principalities and powers of the air and releases captive mankind!

We’re coming to an hour when we will have no alternatives. Even though we’re nice and believe in balance and moderation and neutrality and have no stomach for radical extremes, I want to say that I don’t believe that we’re going to have any other alternative than to be either radically or apostolically committed – or find ourselves radically apostate. There will not be any neutral ground.

This is a cosmic conflict and always has been, and we are privileged to be the agents of God at its conclusion.

And the world has done everything to dupe us and to domesticate us and to rob us of the apostolic content of our life and our calling by giving us a format of Sunday services and mid-week bible studies and privatized lifestyles and homes and detachment and all kinds of other things that are terribly incompatible with the kind of people that God calls us to be in the community of the saints.

If buying and selling is the privilege only of those who take upon themselves the mark of the Beast – and taking that mark upon you means to violate any relationship with the Lord and to destroy your integrity and to make you a candidate for His eternal judgment – how then shall we live?

I tell you, folks, it makes good sense to begin to contemplate those questions now. And, especially if you live in an area where there is some possibility for the attainment of land of a rural kind where we can learn again how to raise food, how to sustain life, how to provide shelter, how to keep ourselves alive – if the “system” becomes such that we are cut off from access to it by virtue of our unwillingness to take upon ourselves its mark. Or, that the “system” itself will collapse with such debilitating global consequence that if we’re so tied into it that we’ll have no alternative but to perish – or cry “uncle!”

I’m presently living in Minnesota and was brought there originally for the purpose of establishing an agriculturally-based community. And people have looked askance at me and think that’s the delight of men who have that kind of peculiar interest. I want to say I don’t have that delight, naturally speaking. I’m a very private man. I’m the kind of man who would be happy with an attic somewhere in which just to enjoy a book. But to be in the thrust of a band of life in daily intensity and intimacy and demand which community is – well, that is not my natural propensity. But, I tell you, it will be a life-saving provision from God, not only for our bodies but for our souls. It has a wonderful sanctifying effect to be “found out” in the immediate intentions of the daily life lived together. You can’t sweep the unhappy things under the carpet. They are there for all to see.

And, of necessity, we have to go through painful periods of disillusionment and shock with the conditions of the saints – and our own.

Transcribed from a message given in New York City (1989)